Health
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Cancer incidence, mortality rate down in Del.
Gov. Ruth Ann Minner said Delaware's cancer mortality rate declined for the eighth consecutive time, according to figures released last Thursday by Delaware's Division of Public Health. Delaware's cancer incidence rate declined 1.2 percent from 506.1 per 100,000 people for the five-year period from 1997-2001 to an estimated 500.0 per 100,000 in 1998-2002. The mortality rate for cancer in the state declined 3.3 percent, from 218.8 per 100,000 people from 1997-2001, to an estimated 211.6 per 100,000 in 1998-2002. This is the eighth consecutive time period that the Delaware cancer mortality rate has fallen. Delaware's African-Americans experienced a 25-percent reduction in cancer mortality since the 1990-1994 period. "Reducing the rate of people with cancer and dying from cancer is one of the highest priorities of my administration, one for which we have an excellent road map provided by the cancer task force and one to which we are dedicating millions of dollars," Minner said. While serious cancer problems persist in the state, the decline is encouraging, said Public Health director Jaime Rivera MD. "We are pleased with the overall decline in both incidence and mortality in Delaware but particularly pleased with the gains made by blacks in mortality reduction," Rivera said. "However, disparities remain and, in keeping with Gov. Minner's health priorities, we continue to focus on eliminating the health disparities that cause African-Americans to die from cancer more often than whites." Delaware Health and Social Services Secretary Vincent P. Meconi said he also is encouraged by the new data, particularly when it is combined with the commitment Minner made to reduce cancer in Delaware. "I'm pleased with our progress," Meconi said. "We will continue to work with the Cancer Consortium to provide more services and educate the public." The U.S. cancer mortality rate for 1998-2002 was 197.9. This compares to Delaware's rate of 211.6. Delaware now ranks sixth highest in the nation for cancer mortality. From 1992-1996, Delaware was ranked second highest. The average annual incidence rate from 1998-2002 was higher for men (588.1 vs. 437.9 for women), blacks (531 vs. 496 for whites) and in New Castle County (510 vs. 486.7 in Sussex and 468 in Kent).
For men, prostate (29.3 percent), lung (16.6 percent), and colorectal (11.4 percent) were the most commonly diagnosed cancers. For women, breast (29.9 percent), lung (13.6 percent), and colorectal (11.5 percent) were most common. The average annual mortality rate for 1998-2002 was higher for men (261.4 vs. 179.7 for women), blacks (252.0 vs. 208.1 for whites) and in Kent County (217.2 vs. 213.7 in New Castle and 205.1 in Sussex). For men, lung (31.9 percent), prostate (11.6 percent), and colorectal (9.7 percent) were the most common cause of cancer deaths. For women, lung (26.0 percent), breast (15.8 percent), and colorectal (10.0 percent) were the most common cause of cancer deaths.

Vaccines help save lives of many children
Delaware's Division of Public Health reminds families that vaccinations are the reason why many childhood diseases are no longer common. Vaccines prevent serious disease and death. Many infectious diseases that were once common, such as polio, mumps, whooping cough, and rubella (German measles), are only distant memories for most Americans. Every child should be immunized against 12 potentially serious diseases by age 2. At least one shot is needed for each of these diseases, and for a few diseases, several doses are needed for the best protection. In addition to getting the right number of doses, getting them at the right age is critical. Vaccines are given at an early age because the diseases they prevent are more serious or common among infants and young children. Nearly 60 percent of severe disease caused by Influenza type B occurs among babies less than 12 months old and 90 percent of all deaths from whooping cough are among children under 6 months old.